Category Archives: Wellness

The Christmas Victim

2002_blue_room_christmas_treeEven though it’s Christmas time, lately I’ve been noticing how everything is all about me.

Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.

Which is strange, because I feel like all I do is give, give, give, give, give.

Not too long  back I read a book which discussed how certain patterns are maintained in life because someone is hanging on to their victim role. I thought about this. “Nope, not me. I don’t walk around victimized. I’m a ‘doer.’ I don’t take things sitting down. This is not me.”

And I skipped happily along.

Along comes a dream

Then, like in a movie or good book, I had a strange dream. I don’t have many strange dreams. (Thank God. I don’t want strange dreams, and I don’t want strange voices.) What was strange about this dream was that I woke up abruptly from my dream right as I was saying, “We’re all playing our own victim role in life, I guess…” Hmmm. Okay. Not so strange. I hear you. We all talk in our dreams. And notice, it was my own voice. So I’m safe still. Not hearing strange voices.

But what was strange was how I went from hyperdrive, lightspeed dreaming to an abrupt, hard stop, with complete awakeness and those words literally reverberating, echoing in my head. Like one of those balloons they used to make when we were kids. Remember those? The big, tough balloons with long rubber bands attached, and you’d sit there and bounce the ball back and forth: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. That’s how the words were in my head, until they died off slowly, like the sound of a freight train chugging away from me in the night.

In the loud, dark silence, I grabbed my pen, and I wrote those words down. Scribble. Scribble. Scribble. You’re supposed to write your dreams down, they say. So I wrote it down. I never turn the light on. I just leave a pad by my bed and scribble big, hoping it will be legible in the morning. It rarely is. I don’t know why I bother.

“We’re all playing our own victim role.”

Then the magic happened. Over the last, oh, I don’t know, six months since I dreamed that dream, I’ve seen it!  Watch. Do you see it too?

“Why is it so cold? This weather sucks. Nobody should live in -37 degree F  (-38 degrees C) weather.”

“Why are you up so early? This is my time! No, I won’t read you that book. This. Is. My. Time.”

“Target and Office Max didn’t have the gift I needed. Now I have to go to Wal-Mart. Kill me now.”

“I have four kids I’m homeschooling. Does she really think I have time to talk on the phone an hour? Does everyone think homeschoolers just sit around and read all day?”

“Where is my husband? He said he’d be home early today. This is not early.”

Did you see it?

The victim. I’m playing the victim role. All day. All day.

The weather is the weather. It’s NOT out to get me.

Kids wake up early sometimes. They do. (Remember when you were a kid and you woke up so early on Saturdays that all that was on TV was the screen with those stupid colors? And the ear-splitting, high-pitched, strident sustained tone? Oh, maybe you had cable. I only had an antenna to pick up three stations: Indianapolis, South Bend-Mishawaka, and Ft. Wayne.) My kids aren’t out to get me (yet).

Wal-Mart didn’t send me an invitation. The phone didn’t walk up to my ear. And my husband didn’t go break that kid’s arm so he’d have to operate on it and eat a cold dinner.

I made myself the victim in all these simple, daily situations.

I’ve shared this victim idea with my husband, kids, and some friends. We now have fun walking around poking out each other victim roles. “Oh, you’re such the victim.”

Besides moms like me, kids love the victim role too:

“I didn’t do it.” “It’s not my fault.” “You always blame me.” “She always takes over.” “She pushed me.” “Why does she get to, and I don’t?” “You always take her side.” “She never helps.” “I didn’t have time to practice. I had to go to my sister’s dance show.” “Why do I have to do so much math every day?”

Of course, husbands are good at it too. And friends. And bosses. And really, just about all of us. Especially at Christmas.

We didn’t get the cards out; we just had so much to do. My gifts shipped to the wrong place; I was being rushed out the door while I was typing in the shipping address. Don’t the radio stations know this is the only time of the year to play Christmas music? Why are they playing that stupid song instead?

Or– I don’t even celebrate Christmas, the stores are so busy, and all I want is a flipping loaf of bread. People are so stupid and needy and trashing the earth with all this crap they buy to feed the need. The music offends me. The words “Merry Christmas” offend me.

Find the victim in the feeling

Me. Me. Me. Me! You see it! We’re all playing our own victim roles. Think about it. Let me know what you think!

Is there a victim hiding behind our anger, fear, irritation, and/or overwhelm? Is there? It often takes me a while to see it when I’m irritated, but then when I step back, I am learning to see that I have placed myself as the victim being acted upon. Sometimes it’s my headache acting on me. Sometimes it’s my kids. Sometimes it’s the weather. Sometimes it’s even the radio station not playing Christmas music.

Yes, there are times that people truly are victims, like abusive relationships and war. Perhaps the feelings that the victim role bring about were placed in us to help prevent us from being placed in situations where we are dangerously victims. I don’t know.

All I know is that for me, the victim mentality is not a necessary piece of my life. I will not accept it.

Well, from my heart to yours, here’s to a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or just a great December 25th. Embrace the season. Embrace every single bit of it. The late cards. The lines. The weather. The stupid radio DJ’s. The UPS. The different cultures and sub-cultures screaming to be heard. All of it.

They make movies we love about this stuff! It must be worth something! God have mercy on us.

The best to you,

Terri

PS: The book I read with a section on this was called The Loving Diet, Jessica Flanigan.

Which Supplement Is Best?

pillsI’ve noticed that when people are told a particular kind of supplement is good to buy, let’s say for fish oil, they often go and buy other supplements from the same maker, say for a multi-vitamin or B vitamin complex.

Caution. This is not a wise idea.

There is no one best manufacturer of all vitamins and supplements. The maker of one of the best fish oil supplements does not make the best multi-vitamin. The maker of a great probiotic doesn’t make a very good B vitamin complex. So don’t buy all your vitamins and supplements from the same manufacturer just because you think they make the best of everything. They may get a “Best All-Around” award, but that doesn’t make each product truly the best. Just improves your odds a bit.

I highly recommend that you research each of your supplements. There are many ways to do this, and I recommend not just trusting one source. Some people like Consumer Reports. Some people like Amazon. Some people go to their favorite blogging site. (Heck, some people even still ask their doctor!) Don’t put all your trust in one basket! Compile all that information to make a supplement choice.

If your doctor suggests a supplement to you, don’t just run to Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest one–or even the most expensive one.  Cost is not always a predictor of the quality of a supplement. Which store you buy from is not always a predictor of the quality of a supplement! Each supplement and ingredient in a supplement has its own inherent list of questions that need asked and answered.

After you’ve looked at the ingredients and how they’re supplied and processed, then you can start looking at costs, narrowing it down as needed to the cheapest of the supplements left for you to choose from.

Supplements are designed differently for different purposes. You need to know what you want to take a supplement for to determine which supplement you want.

For example, some people take resveratrol. One person wants it for their arthritis, while another person wants it to help decrease their risk of dementia. Well, resveratrol can be formulated different ways to get it to different parts of the body. So the resveratrol these two people want would be differently formulated! Knees aren’t brains.

Another example, of which there are many, would be magnesium. Some people take magnesium for headache prevention. Others need it for their sluggish GI tracts. These two groups of people should not be taking the same formulation of magnesium! Some kinds of magnesium are known to be very well absorbed, and that’s the kind the “head-acher” would want. Other magnesium forms are not so well absorbed, drawing water into the GI tract and encouraging bowel movements. That’s what the person with the sluggish GI would want! Each person may “need” some magnesium, but if they choose the wrong form, it won’t do what they need it to do! (Or it’ll do more than they want it to do!)

Look at each ingredient in a supplement. I’m going to tell you. It’s darn hard to get the best form of each ingredient into a multi-ingredient supplement. I’ll be reading through a mulit-vitamin label, nodding my head happily, and then I’ll hit an ingredient which makes me frown. Does that mean to scrap the whole bottle? I don’t know. It usually depends. Who is it for? What’s their diet like? How much can they spend? What’s their health like?

But many people reading this may have issues which require the best and most natural form or vitamin or supplement. So just be aware. Be knowledgeable.

Make food your main source of vitamins and supplements. You can’t out-supplement a bad diet. When I was in medical school and pharmacy school, I remember the professors standing up there—kind of like the Ronald Reagan line—“Read my lips…”—saying, “Most people today don’t need multi-vitamins.”

It echoes in my brain. Why? Because I ate horribly at these times! I lived on bagels, Pop Tarts, cereal, pizza, and restaurant Indian food. Oh! And Diet Coke from McDonald’s. And my gut started stopping. And my brain started aching. And my hormonal system started screaming.

Never once did I hear a professor say, “As long as your patient is eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, and other real, whole foods, you know, they probably don’t need any vitamins.” That’s closer to the truth.

Eat real, whole foods. Find out which foods have the “supplement” you want!

Conclusion

Well, thanks for reading. I just wanted to take a moment to communicate a little bit about supplements. How one brand doesn’t make the best of everything. Why one supplement may be the rock-star for one person but not another.

There are SO many supplements out there. Be careful. Be cautious. Ask your doctor to make sure it’s safe for your body and safe with anything else you may be taking or doing. Don’t use anything on my blog site as medical guidance.

And please, always be careful when using supplements.

Terri

 

Help Me Stop This Destructive Pattern

Okay, dear friend. You said you can’t stop eating. You asked me to set you straight. So here it is.

  • ONE) It is winter. The body is craving dense, high fat, high caloric foods. It wants food. The light is low. It’s freezing. The body knows what it has done for thousands of years. Thank it for doing a good job for you. Its job.
  • TWO) Eat your foods. Enjoy them. Eat them gone. Eat a little then toss them. However you want. Binge. Savor over days. Eat them plain. Make your favorite dish with them. However. Be happy that food tastes so good. That temporarily it makes you feel so good! What joy is there in eating cardboard?
  • THREE) Accept you will feel crumby for a few days. Accept it may even exacerbate things over the next month. Don’t fight it. Don’t beat yourself up. Just accept it. You did what you did. You had your reasons. And now, you’ll journey forward. Pointing fingers simply wastes time and emotional resources. Pointing fingers is not productive except to tell you that there is resentment, fear, and anger.
  • FOUR) Resolve, after the food is eaten, to move from this place. You know your safe diet. You know what you like to eat to feel your best. Reassure your body that the feasting and celebration was great, and you thoroughly enjoyed it. You have let guilt go in favor of true appreciation. But you will now move back to where it likes to live. Routines are nice. Routines are reassuring. Rigid schedules are not. You’ve proved you’re not rigid. Good. But get back to the routine if you know that is ideal for you.
  • FIVE) When you try to get back to your routine, and you keep falling off, explore that. Again, no pointing fingers. That’s wasteful. Look. Are you really hungry? Are you really bored? Are you really sad? Are you really just wanting a distraction from the kids or the housework? Are you feeling sorry for yourself because it takes more work for you to feel good compared to other people? Are you simply tired?Then, ask yourself, what can you do. What can you do to go back to your routine? Is that routine really best for you? Or is there something about your food routine you need to change that is keeping you from easily jumping back on board? Do you need to eat earlier? Do you need to include a food that you know is marginal in your tolerance? Do you need to deal with a relationship? Are you feeling trapped by your diet, lifestyle, life?

    A struggle with the routine says there’s something that needs communicated to yourself. Either about the routine itself or the person who wants to adhere to the routine. Maybe it’s not the right routine. Or maybe it is, but the acceptance isn’t there. Just the ten pointing fingers. (Pointing fingers. Again, I say. Bad.)

  • SIX) NOW, GET YOUR HEAD ON STRAIGHT AND DO WHAT NEEDS DONE!!!!!!! WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION! 🙂 And recognize, it may not be what you thought at the beginning needed done!
Merry Christmas time! What a wonderful time! If you’re feeling stressed and frazzled, regroup. Prioritize. Lower or change expectations. Accept. Offer love and compassion to others and yourself.
The Homeschooling Doctor logoTerri

The Holiday is Over

christmas_decorations_in_a_store_bow_8-1Well, the holiday is over. How did you do? Did you eat too much? Eat the wrong things? Know you’re going to pay for it this week?

What? You still have dinners to go to today and tomorrow? Leftovers staring you in the face?

Come on. You have 38 days left. Thirty-eight days. Thirty-eight days left of holiday food torment. Did your first day set the tone you wanted for the next 38 days? Mmmm? Or maybe not.

Listen to me. And listen to me good. You have a choice. Each day. Each moment.

That one hard thing

Think hard. Hasn’t there ever been anything hard you’ve done that required effort? Required diligence? Have you run a 5K? Have you painted a bedroom? Have you played in front of a crowd? What have you done that required work?

Because you could have stopped doing it. You could have walked to your car instead of to the 5K finish line where a banana and water was waiting for you. Some fashionable curtains could have tied together a two-tone bedroom. Nobody dragged you kicking and screaming to the stage with your clarinet.

You. Your choices did all these things in your life.  YOU.

So, I want you to think hard again. You’ve paved the connections in your brain between neurons for persistence by doing these hard things before in your life. Great job! Now is the moment to capitalize on your earlier successes. When it feels like you can’t say “No” to that food or that latte, remember that one hard thing you did. Feel the shoes on your feet, the concrete under your feet. And say, “I choose me, not food.” And run on.

Feel the paint brush in your hand, see the accidental paint spatters on the carpet, and say, “Sometimes I drop some paint, but I keep painting.” And paint on.

See the audience’s eyes on you, while you play your zombie-stiff clarinet song with racing heart. And say, “I choose to do this in front of the glares and stares of the world.” And play on.

You see, it is your choice. I promise you, nobody is going to grab that roll or those mashed potatoes and stuff them in your mouth. (Visualizing that, are you?)

But YOU might grab that roll and those mashed potatoes or that brownie this holiday season. YOU.

I can quit

Once, when I was having a hard time at pharmacy school personally, my volleyball coach looked at me and said, “Terri, you can go home. [Home and dear family support was six hours away.] Take a break.” I tried to argue with her. I couldn’t go home! I’d lose a whole semester of grades! A whole semester of money! No matter what I said, she told me it didn’t matter. I could go home. Finally, I realized, I could go home. I could quit whenever I wanted. And suddenly, I knew I had the fight in me. I knew I could pull myself up by my bootstraps, get my head wrapped on straight, and I could do this hard thing.

When I had to change the way I ate 4 years and five months  ago (I remember the date I dove in to 100% change), I did the same thing. I recognized my choice. MY CHOICE. I thought of all the hard things I’d done in my life, and I knew I could do this one.

I haven’t fought every food and nutrition battle you’ll have to fight. But I’ve fought a lot the last four years. Battles from myself. My tongue. My mom. My kids. My world. The TV. Gluten. Dairy. Eggs.

But I’ve run 5Ks, painted rooms, and I’ve played in piano recitals. I remember those things. When I am faced with food choices I know don’t benefit me, I recall those successes. I feel them. I smile at them. And most of the times, I move on just fine.

Move past the dribbles and play your song

Sometimes I don’t move on just fine. That’s probably most like painting. I never get the drop cloth spread out the way I should. I often think I don’t need the drop cloth. I’m just going to paint this one little touch-up. I won’t dribble. And I always do. Always do dribble. But seriously, who stops painting a whole room because they dribbled?

Today, while you’re shopping, looking at leftovers, visiting family. Next week, when the baked goods and cheap candy start rolling in (Gosh, wasn’t it just Halloween?). Thirty-eight days from now, remember it was YOUR choice.

Did you run? Did you dribble, yet keep painting? Did you play your song?

Eating right isn’t about now. It’s about hiking with your kids when they’re old enough to hike. It’s about that trip to Europe you’ve always dreamed after you retire. It’s about getting down on the floor to change your grandbaby’s diaper. It’s about writing that book with great mental clarity that comes from real food.

It’s about YOU.

And doing the hard thing. Each step of the way.

YOU CAN DO THIS. STARTING NOW.

Run. Paint. Play your song. You’ve done it before, and you can do it in this area too!

Happy Friday!

Terri

Photo attribution: By Tomwsulcer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Thanksgiving Recipe Adaptation Tips and Links

sweetcashewcream-1Are you struggling with any Thanksgiving recipe adaptations? Have an awesome adaptation discovery you’d love to share? Please stop by today’s post!

My greatest adaptation tip is that most of the time, I can substitute olive oil for butter—-in baked goods, for topping steamed vegetables, and in casseroles. Obviously this won’t work for something like caramel! Another tip I’d like to share is to not give up on a beloved recipe; there’s almost always a way to adapt it. I have kept all my old recipes and over the last few years, I’ve been slowly adapting them as I learn new cooking and baking techniques and supplies.

Okay. Let’s look at how to adapt most of those Thanksgiving favorites.

Mashed Potatoes: I use tons of good quality olive oil, some full-fat coconut milk, and salt and pepper.

Tips: Don’t use too much coconut milk or they’ll taste like coconut. I use about a 50/50 oil to coconut milk ratio (heavier on the olive oil, more scant on the coconut milk), and my family is good with that. If you do get more coconut flavor than you’d like, it can be countered by adding some garlic, rosemary, and/or chives.

Gravy: Arrowroot flour/powder is my go-to thickener now. It works but it is finicky like a princess’s cat. I suggest that you do NOT add it to boiling substances or you’ll get a snot consistency. And when you add it, whisk like your life depended on it. Tapioca starch/flour is similar in nature, and I treat it the same. I have noticed that performance does depend on the brand! My higher quality flours perform better.

Procedure: I use about 1 tablespoon of arrowroot for each cup of liquid. First, I make an arrowroot slurry by mixing the arrowroot in the smallest amount of lukewarm temperature water as possible (maybe a tablespoon for a tablespoon), and I set that aside. Next, I bring my gravy broth to a boil, shut off the heat, move the pan over off the burner, THEN add the arrowroot slurry, whisking like crazy.

Green Bean Casserole: For this one, I make my own onion rings, dipping onions in a gluten-free flour and then frying them, and I make a homemade mushroom soup. It’s a lengthy process but my family loves it so much. Here is my recipe. I like it better than other ones I’ve seen out there because the onion rings are closest to the ones I remember from the can.

Cranberry Gelatin Salad: In place of Jello, I use plain gelatin and juice to make my own gelatin. I use maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. Everything else is just the same as the recipe has been handed down through the generations. Here is my recipe.

Corn Casserole: I haven’t adapted this one to reach the near 100% whole food mark yet, but I’ve adapted it for gluten-free, dairy-free. Everyone’s favorite family recipe is a little different, but you can find gluten-free, dairy-free cornbread mixes at the store. There are gluten-free, dairy-free brands of canned cream corn you can use. Use olive oil in place of butter. If your recipe calls for sour cream, you could try making some cashew cream as a substitute. (But plan ahead, you have to find raw cashews and soak them for several hours.) Have you perfected this adaptation?

Pecan Pie: Easily adaptable. I use olive oil in place of butter, maple syrup in place of corn syrup and brown sugar, and arrowroot in place of flour for thickening. Here is my recipe.

Pumpkin Pie: Another easily adaptable pie. I use maple syrup in place of sugar and any dairy-free milk for the milk.

Coconut cream, banana cream, and peanut butter cream pies: I’ve had success with adapting these using alternative milks (coconut cream is best for the consistency as it has the most fat) and arrowroot in place of flour.

Pie Crust: There are very pleasant gluten-free, dairy-free pie crusts available frozen in the store. My daughter makes her own crust using Bob’s Red Mill (I believe any gluten-free flour combination will work. We have tried just using arrowroot for this recipe. But it got stringy, so best to make it with a “combination” gluten-free mix.) I believe I also featured this recipe in my pecan pie post.

Granny’s Adapted Pinch Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup of gluten-free flour (tested with Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Follow these directions very closely. It’s not hard, but the wording is confusing!

In a 1/2 cup measuring cup, put in 3 tablespoons of milk and then fill, IN THE SAME 1/2 cup measuring cup with the milk still in it, up to the 1/2 cup mark with olive oil.

Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk together to immerse. Add the flour and mix well. Use your hands to knead gently and briefly.

Push into the pie pan.  We do this by forming about 8 or so little balls and placing them around the pan. Then, we push them together, up the side of the pan, and a little bit over the lip of the pan Next, we use our fingers to flute the edge.

Use as directed in your recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole: We make the kind with the pecans and glaze on top. It is so good. Here is my recipe. However, there are some marshmallows you can buy now that don’t use any food coloring, if you need to do the marshmallow topping.

Whipped cream: I make a sweetened cashew cream. I haven’t posted the recipe yet on the blog, so I can’t link to it. But it’s very similar to the ones that are out there on the internet if you care to Google it. Or ask below, and I’ll type it in the comments for you.

Stuffing/dressing: I don’t have this one adapted yet. My family doesn’t miss it too much. But there are some great recipes out there. Do you have one?

Need to be egg-free? Following an auto-immune diet? Lastly, I highly recommend The Curious Coconut and her autoimmune recipes for more rigid food restrictions. I don’t know her at all. But I have purchased her holiday e-cookbook and it is amazing! I recommend trying some of the recipes ahead of time because they’re a little tricky and can give unexpected results! We have made a couple of the dinner rolls, and they looked so cute in her photos…

What questions do you have about adapting recipes? Are you stuck on one? Are you scared to try? Do you have an AWESOME one you’d love to share?

Choose food that doesn’t make you sick and doesn’t make you overeat. Best wishes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Terri

 

 

Do You Have Some Medical Misconceptions?

Four years ago I stepped into a new medical realm to fix some GI problems. I bought lots of books, joined some internet forums, and read like the dickens. I can distinctly remember the feeling of smugness when I first started reading forums, as the members talked about so many things I thought I had the best information on. Some fallacies I started with include:

  1. Leaky gut is not real.
  2. Folic acid is just as good as natural folate.
  3. We get enough iodine.
  4. Cholesterol is bad for you.
  5. Fat is bad for you.
  6. Saturated fat is really bad for you.
  7. Vegetable oil is better for you.
  8. Diets should be rich in whole grains and fat-free dairy products.
  9. The American Diabetes Association and nutritionists had the best diet figured out for diabetic patients.
  10. The American Heart Association had the best diet figured out for heart patients.
  11. Not much crosses the blood brain barrier, thereby making the brain an island unto itself.
  12. Gluten-free, dairy-free diets are foolish fads.

So many misconceptions! How did I learn those things? Well, let me tell you. The pace of medical school and residency is breakneck. My professors and staff doctors verbally handed me the information that they thought I needed. Some of them were bigwigs on boards and in associations. They helped make guidelines. They wrote textbooks. They taught medical continuing education.

I took notes. I filed away what they said. I did a good job.

And I kept right on passing that information along.

It’s not right, folks.

  1. The best thing you can do for your health is inspect what you eat. If you pop or smear any medicine at all (for allergies, headaches, coughing, heartburn, skin rashes), you need to take it down to 100% whole food as a bare minimum place to start. 100%.
  2. Then, you need to look at the known allergenic foods (often called the Top 8: dairy, eggs, peanuts, nuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish—I’d personally also throw corn in there from talking to a lot of moms) and think hard about trying an elimination diet to take those out for a time, slowly reintroducing them back in one food at a time. Talk to your healthcare provider about this.
  3. You need to find some real vegetables and real starches you can ingest and feel good on. Great vegetables are broccoli, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, Brussels, asparagus, spinach, kale, endive, radishes, cucumbers. Great real starches are potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, parsnips, butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, cassava root.
  4. Get good sleep.
  5. Move.
  6. Get outdoors.
  7. Use your brain to think more and solve more problems. (Not necessarily the world’s problems, probably best to start with your own. I suppose if you don’t have any, then it’s okay to proceed to the world’s at your own risk.)
  8.  Tackle your misconceptions about yourself, your friends, your spouse, your family your enemies. Then, get right with yourself, your friends, your spouse, your family, your enemies. See another viewpoint.
  9. Modern medicine tries to separate “us” from the body. I think that’s a huge misconception and would like to suggest something. Pray every single day for yourself for five minutes consecutively to Someone Out There. (Any health hacker up to the challenge?)  I’m Christian. I don’t know or even really care what you are. But over the last year, I’ve tried something a little foreign to me. I’ve taken to praying for myself. I used to think it was selfish to pray for myself. So many other people had big, bad, scary problems; I needed to pray for them first! And by the time I got through them, I had fallen asleep already. Oops.But over the last year, I’ve taken to praying for myself first. Hardest. Most. One month, in fact, I only allowed myself to pray for myself. (Heavens, of course I cheated.) And that has been life-changing for me. Looking at it now, I feel so “duh.” Of course I needed my own prayer the most! We all do! Well, anyhow. Science is showing that meditation, yoga, mindfulness, whatever, that these things affect our health. So try it. Pray to Someone Out There. Pour out your fears, your challenges, the people who get under your skin, your petty grievances, your body aches, your anger, your hurt, your desires–pour it all out to this Someone Out There. I dare you to try it every single day, on your knees or back or toilet even (so sorry), for five minutes a day for 30 whole days in a row. Just try it. No one else allowed in your prayers except you and The Someone Out There; you can pray for other people later.

Well, I’ve digressed. I wish you the best success in feeling good with life and fixing your own misconceptions. What I learned in med school was great. I’m glad I did it. Modern medicine is amazing. Just this month it saved my little girls’ life. 100 years ago, she may have died or been permanently affected. We need modern medicine. But we also need to do the other things.

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll get back to writing more regular. I’m so excited to be reading about the blood brain barrier, microglial cells, and brain fog. I don’t know how it will all come together, but I can’t wait to summarize it all up and share.

Terri

 

 

Can I Get That Banana in Pill Form?

YOU THINK YOU EAT vegetables, fruits, and plant matter just to get your daily dose of vitamin C or folate? Perhaps so, but since you can get those from vitamins and supplements, why go to the pain of cooking when you could pop a pill? Goodness, even boxed donuts are fortified with iron and B vitamins! So vegetables, fruits, and plant matter that nobody really wants to eat seem senseless anyhow.

Right?

No way.

Interruption: Thank you SO much to Molly Green Magazine for giving me a spot to share the medical value of eating real, whole food. My article here you’re reading today ran to help provide an alternative viewpoint to a ketogenic diet article running in the same issue. I just love that the editor loves to keep things balanced! And for the record, I absolutely see a place for ketogenic diets, but I am very wary of protecting the microbiome too.

In addition to my article, this quarter of Molly Green Magazine features articles on “Aquaponics: A Fishy Business,” “Duck Egg Delights,” “Strawesome: An Alternative to Plastic,” “SEO: The Key to Growing a Business,” and “Help! My Homeschool Teen is Being a Pain”—and other fascinating topics for exceptionally curious minds! Check it out! 

Bacteria and Macaroni and Cheese

You can’t have the easy way out! Nice try. The real reason to eat plant matter is for the trillions of bacteria living within you. It sounds strange, but our intestines are perfectly designed to function in sync with billions of bacteria living and giving inside of us—as long as we feed them properly. Unfortunately, the processed foods that we rely on, such as most breakfast cereals, macaroni and cheese, most store-bought bread, crackers, and pizza (and certainly white sugar), do not make it to the lower part of the intestines where these bacteria live. We are starving out some exceptionally friendly, essential bacteria that we need for our health.

The Case of the Missing Fiber

Those essential bacteria need fiber. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you loftily say. “I’ve heard of fiber. I eat lots of oatmeal and salads.”

No. That won’t cut it. It’s not enough. There’s one type of fiber that was naturally included in traditional, healthy cultures which is virtually absent in today’s civilized, processed diet. It’s called resistant starch. Yes, you’re reading correctly; the fiber that you need and probably are not getting is a form of starch. It’s not broken down by the body to be absorbed like other starch is (and thus you don’t get all those calories), so it makes its way to where the bacteria live in your colon.

When the bacteria there eat this resistant starch, they make beneficial, natural substances that bathe the colon cells and reduce colon cancer. However, the bacteria’s by-products also work to fight diabetes, boost the functioning of the brain (perhaps decreasing dementia), soothe the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and support a healthy metabolism. In fact, this kind of “fiber” is so important food companies are researching ways to add it to your food!

But there’s no need to wait and get it from a box or modified plant. Of course not. Real food always wins! Get the benefits of resistant starch and its power without spending any extra money on your food bill and without your family giving you dirty looks. I mean, they eat rice, potatoes, and bananas, don’t they? Yes! You’re in business. Health is on the way. If you want to get fancy, green peas, lentils, beans, and plantains can be added to the mix.

The Value of Leftovers

Wait. This is too good. You know there has to be a catch. Well, there is a small one. Resistant starch is a bit fussy and might go away as a food ripens or when a food is cooked, at least when it’s cooked and hot the first time around. It’s related to some fascinating physical chemistry. Although Grandma didn’t know the physical chemistry, when she served leftovers or made a potato salad, bean salad, or rice salad, she was serving resistant starch.

For potatoes, resistant starch is available in raw potatoes, but most people don’t like those too well. (Did you know that despite what people say, eating raw potatoes is not toxic? Green potatoes are potentially toxic, and cooking does not inactivate the toxin.) Cooking potatoes changes the resistant starch to available starch, which is nearly all absorbed so your gut bacteria don’t get any food. However, cooling the cooked potato in the refrigerator re-forms resistant starch. Eat the potatoes cold (as in potato salad) or reheating them up at this point still preserves the resistant starch.

When it comes to cooked rice, cooling it down also allows resistant starch to form; fresh, hot, cooked rice has little to no resistant starch. Lentils and beans (especially navy beans) contain some available resistant starch when cooked, but they will also form more as they cool down in the refrigerator, too. Grains, nuts, and seeds contain some resistant starch, but potatoes, green bananas and plantains, and legumes contain more. As for bananas and plantains, resistant starch is found in green fruits. As the fruit yellows, the starch becomes plain starch which feeds you more than your bacteria.

It’s Not about Roughage

For people who are on low-carbohydrate diets, such as for weight loss, diabetes, or to control other health conditions, it is vitally important to eat fiber, including resistant starch.

Unfortunately, when people think of “fiber,” they think of “roughage.” It is so much more than the “rough” matter in the vegetables and fruits we need! The roughage may be the least important part because the bacteria do not create beneficial substances from it! If our gut bacteria are not fed properly, the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract can be compromised, the colon cells will not receive the beneficial substances formed by the bacteria, and the rest of the body’s functions will be affected.

It’s a little confusing how bacteria living in our digestive tracts can affect the neurons and myelin sheaths in our brains—or how they can regulate our blood sugars and body size. But research is proving this to be true, and science is backpedaling as it realizes how far off base we have gotten in our modern eating habits.

A diet rich in whole, real plant matter feeds us not only our vitamins and minerals, but also feeds our gut bacteria important substances like resistant starch. Maybe health doesn’t come in a pill after all. Eat whole. Eat real.